I love trying new iPhone apps. A friend recently suggested I give some reviews of what I’ve tried recently/found useful/getting buzz so here’s my round-up as of 2/12/14:
Jelly - launched in early Jan ‘14 and founded by Biz Stone and Ben Finkel, Jelly dubs itself as “a new way to search with pictures and people from your social networks. It’s also people helping each other—something that’s both meaningful and fun.” That description nor the grammar doesn’t make sense to me.
I view it as what Quora (Answers.com killer Q&A site) mobile could have been except that you must add a picture when asking a question and only people in your extended social network (friends of friends of friends— not sure how “extended” the network goes) can answer.
It was an addictive time filler to play with for a couple weeks, but the questions posed are kind of silly as were a lot of the answers. The answers weren’t frequently correct either if it wasn’t just an opinion-based answer.
I think the content will get better over time, but if the “early” adopters are asking questions like “Four barrel or blue bottle” (referring to which coffee brand do you prefer) and “What’s the proper length for jeans? Should these be longer and shorter?” (accompanied with a picture of a sneaker with the jeans hem circled) and getting 52 replies, people are really bored/have too much time on their hands. I do like the element of being able to send a “thank you” to people who provide helpful answers.
Secret - There have been several pre-cursors to this app, including Whisper, but for some reason, this app seems to be getting a lot of buzz among the technorati. I attended a dinner post-Crunchies on Monday and everyone was trying to figure out who amongst their friends posted some juicy “secrets.”
You download the app, then can write a “secret” anonymously that will be shared to your friends. If people click on the heart icon on the secret, then it will be shared to more friends. The revelations people post can be anything from touching “I just learned this morning that I will be a new father” to sad “Lost a baby almost 12 years ago and I think about him/her all of the time. They will never leave me” to critical “The circlejerk culture in the Bay Area is making me want to move somewhere else once I graduate. Never thought I’d say this” to somewhat salacious “Haven’t broken a marriage but have slept with 4 wives.”
As one person wrote as their secret “One of the benefits of Secret relative to Twitter is that the anonymity gets rid of all the self-promotional posturing circle-jerk shit.” People really are anti-circle jerk (a term which I rarely encountered in NYC, must be something about the tech scene in SF, maybe the skewed gender ratio). People like trying to guess who of their friends posted secrets, but be careful who you ask whether they posted a secret as you could definitely offend them.
Hinge - Hinge (another dating app that I think is a higher quality pool of people than Tinder) is now available in DC, Philly, NYC, Boston and SF. Hinge shares Facebook photos, full name (!), age, city, who you are connected from and either where you went to college or where you work so there’s more context than Tinder which is just a picture and age.
Hinge is supposed to be your “friends of FB friends” so you’re not getting matched with anyone who you are already FB friends with, however I have gotten several people who I am actually friends with, which is always a bit awkward (am I supposed to like them then make some joke if we match?) Similar to Tinder, if you mutually “like” each other, you can send a message via their platform. You get a new batch of “matches” at noon every day (like Coffee Meets Bagel, another FB-related dating app which never really took off). The more people you know on Hinge, the more matches you receive.
I have found the quality of the people to be higher on Hinge which would make sense since they are supposedly friends of your friends vs. randomly within a certain mile radius of you. Because the app is still relatively new, it’s attracting an early adopter crowd which is also more appealing than the swipe-addicted, hook-up friendly masses on Tinder.
Wunderlist- this app is not new (Wunderkind6- the company that created it started in 2010) and they have 6M users, but I just discovered it. The team is based in Berlin and they are going after the “productivity tool” space, e.g. Evernote, Apple Notes, etc. Instead of just being a notepad for lists, you can create multiple lists then check off items. This is super useful if you’re shopping, packing, or wanting to remember which restaurants/bars you’ve tried.
Confide - for all the buzz Snapchat got when it didn’t sell for a $3B, Confide is quietly getting users with a similar concept but for “off record messages” instead of pictures. I have not used this app yet to be fair, but the concept makes sense for people who want to exchange information not on the record. Think hedge fund managers using this to trade stock pics or lawyers wanting to negotiate a deal without an email trail. I don’t think this will replace face-to-face interactions in any way, but it’s a smart idea for the business world to consider using unless of course, the NSA chooses to penetrate this app’s log files.
ZeroBlock - dubs itself as “first cross-platform real time Bitcoin market data and aggregated news feed” and the mobile app is awesome. If you want to know what bitcoin is trading at or any news that comes up about this hot technology, this is your app.
There are forum discussions on the website, a live Twitter feed, and you can get bitcoin prices on various exchanges in different currencies. On the mobile app, you get exchange blog news, company blogs, in addition to bitcoin market caps, volume comparisons, total bitcoins in circulation (Total BTC), and the M1 rank, which measures the most liquid components of the money supply, as it contains cash and assets that can quickly be converted to currency. I’m still learning what all of these metrics mean for a bitcoin investor/trader, but it’s a great place to learn about everything bitcoin-related real-time.
Frontback - launched last July but has been gaining a fanatical following. Capitalizing on the “selfie” trend, Frontback lets you take a picture then the camera flips to you and you can take a pic of your own reaction to the picture you just took, hence the name.
While a very simple concept, people have gotten creative with what is shown in the top (what is in front of you) and bottom (you or the camera facing you). The app founder Frederic Della Faille said he built the app in 4 weeks and in true Valley-style, shipped it as a “Minimum Viable Product” then moved from NYC to SF. Like Twitter, you can follow people whose pics will show up in your feed and have followers. This could be a really interesting app for brands and celebrities promoting products once they discover it, which for the most part, they have not.
Path- is not a new app and is founded by Dave Morin who developed FB Connect at Facebook. In January they raised a $25M Series C financing. They have not gained widespread adoption which may be because of its nature but for the most part, people on Path are highly engaged.
Path is for people who are sick of “list managing” what content gets shared with whom on Facebook. Path is also great for celebrities who want to share private content with their real friends and still maintain their public image on Facebook if they can get their less tech-saavy friends to get on it. Most of the people on Path today are the early adopters.
Like Twitter, you receive a feed of pictures, thoughts, songs your friends are listening to, updates of what city (and even neighborhood if set up that way) they are in from your 150 closest friends. Based on the research of Oxford Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar, who has long suggested that 150 is the maximum number of social relationships that the human brain can sustain at any given time, that is the number of people who you can share content with on Path. Path friends can comment via emoticons on what friends’ post and you can also see who has seen your post unlike other social platforms (FB, Twitter, Tumblr).
Path has experimented with various monetization models including stickers and a premium subscription, but hasn’t quite cracked the code. They have not introduced native advertising yet which is a good thing I think. I really like the team at Path and the app so hope they continue to grow. It is one of the most user friendly, beautifully designed apps I have seen.
Shake - is the first mobile app that creates simple legally binding agreements. From Jake Furst’s Linkedin (their VP of Biz Dev): “Shake strives to combine the simplicity, convenience, and collaborative spirit of a handshake with the protection of a legal agreement.” They have a workflow and templates to create agreements for freelance work, NDAs, buying/selling goods, renting/lending, and loaning money. You can also create your own legal agreement and sign on your iPhone then send a PDF version to your counterpart.
I really like the founder Abe Geiger and his advisors Jared Grusd (Chief Counsel at Spotify) and Jon Steinberg (Founder, Buzzfeed). They raised $3M in November. The legal world with its complex language and lengthy documents is ready for disruption.
Soundcloud- is also not a new application. They just raised a series D round of $60M at a $700M valuation in January. I debated adding this one but realized that while I think everyone knows about it, a lot of people who are not big music aficionados may not.
I had dinner last night with Monal Chokshi, one of their design researchers, who was in SF from Berlin (small brag about her: we worked together first job out of college at Trilogy Software and she was the first Indian-American inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame in ‘09, the same year as Tiger Woods, tennis player Patrick McEnroe, baseball player Mike Mussina, and NFL player Tommy Vardell.)
Soundcloud is as ubiquitous as “Youtube” in Berlin because great electronic music is so popular. Here in the States however, people really into mixing music share their DJ tracks, but a lot of people still use Pandora/Spotify for music listening. You can upload music, follow people, “like” tracks, and repost them to your followers. It’s a great music discovery tool and is the only place I’m aware of to find unique mixed music that would stump Shazam or any other music recognition tool. You can follow music I like here: https://soundcloud.com/ayterry
Opensnow- is the best snow report app for skiing/boarding I’ve seen. The guys who give the mountain summary reports (Colorado, Tahoe, etc) really know their stuff. Not only at a glance do you get inches of snow fallen from the past 12-18 hours and and temperatures, you can set alerts for new powder by inches, e.g. receive an alert for resorts >3” snow fallen. There is also a “powder finder” feature which ranks all of the ski resorts in the US (only limitation is that they don’t do int’l ski resorts) on new snow by inches in last 7-24 hours.